Traffic on 19th Avenue was temporarily shut down today when students from San Francisco State University protesting cuts to educational funding poured into the street and blocked traffic.
For about seven minutes, drivers were forced to watch a crowd of sign-wielding students march in front of their cars while photographers swarmed around them snapping photos.
Some chanted "Fight Back SF State, take it back to Sixty Eight," in reference to the protests that shook the campus in 1968.
The police were on hand but decided to clear out the protesters only after traffic began to back up hundreds of yards in both directions. The students slowly relented and returned to the sidewalk without a struggle.
Even after the traffic delay, many drivers were compelled to honk their horns in solidarity and wave happily at the protesters.
Today's protests were primarily a response to increased student tuition but representatives from the California Faculty Association, Academic Professionals of California, and the Skilled Employee Trade Council joined the demonstration as well. Even representatives of the International Communist League were on hand distributing their Workers Vanguard newspaper.
The student protests have attracted a variety of participants who feel that the tuition hikes go beyond budget woes. "The lasting impact is the relationships that are being built between the different sectors," said Jason Ferreira, who teaches in the College of Ethnic Studies department at SFSU. "Now is a moment of convergence."
According to the SFSU web site, the CSU Board of Trustees approved two increases to the State University fee for all students effective for the Fall 2009 semester. The first increase was 10 percent and the second was for an additional 20 percent.